Sunday, February 3, 2013

Our lessons this week

I want to share some sweet thoughts with you.  I hope you will enjoy reading this.

We are teaching Institute classes to Young Single Adults using the New Testament this semester.  Since we are going straight through the NT books, our lesson this last week was from the Gospel of John and was about the Crucifixion of Jesus even though it's not Easter time.  The lesson was a sad story of unfathomable suffering.  The agony that Jesus experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane, the lashings, torture, humiliation, and his death on the cross fulfilled prophecy and finished his purpose on earth.  

I found it very interesting to see the transition that Christ's followers went through.  Before his death they believed that He was the Son of God and saw him do many miracles but they also believed that he came to free them from the Romans who ruled Israel at that time.  They thought he would become the new King of Israel.  When he died they grieved and were confused.  They dispersed and Peter, the chief apostle, even denied him three times.  

After the resurrection and Christ's appearance to them they finally got it!  See the end of John and the other 3 Gospels, and Acts 1-5.   the story becomes so powerful and joyful by comparison to the events of the crucifixion.  After three days Jesus showed himself alive to his followers starting with Mary and other women.  He then showed himself  to the apostles and eventually to 500+ people.  He spent 40 days with them, organizing His Church and teaching them the fullness of the Gospel and Heavenly Father's Plan of Salvation for all of us.  When the apostles and disciples finally understood the purpose of Christ's life and death and the plan that enables all people to live again after death-- their sorrow and confusion turned to joy.  They at last could testify about the reality of the resurrection because they saw the risen Christ with their own eyes -- they taught and testified to others with boldness and clarity.  It is beautiful to read.   

After Elder Dixon (Roger) helped the lesson come alive for the students with an excellent PowerPoint description and a thoughtful discussion of the events, we were blessed to hear a number of the students express their love for Jesus and their gratitude for His atonement.  (I love it when someone translates for me so that I can understand the nuances.)   

There are so many questions that arise during a person's life:  How did Christ's death satisfy the laws of justice and mercy?    IS there really life after death?   Does God know and love me?   Does what I do here really matter?   I remembering learning when I was 12 or so that no unclean thing can enter the Kingdom of God.  That seemed logical:  If Heaven allowed sinful people to live there, it wouldn't be Heaven.  That motivated me and I've remembered it all these years!  

We invite you to go to <> and search for the answers to all the tough questions you've ever asked.  The website has answers, beautiful videos, and testimonies.  I think you will feel the spirit of the Lord when you begin to explore it's features.   I believe you will enjoy it and be glad you checked it out.

Love, Elder and Sister Dixon
(The pictures we used are from the website mentioned above, <>

From Acts 1-5 --  I especially like the following scriptures:

Acts 1:3 -- Jesus showed himself after his crucifixion to the apostles for 40 days teaching them about the Kingdom of God.  Can you imagine sitting in that group?  They must have clung on every word.  

Acts 2:4-6 -- On the day of Pentecost the disciples received the Holy Spirit and were able to teach people from every nation in their own language.  People in the city were amazed and marveled.  

Acts 2:24 --Peter taught with power about the miracles Jesus did, and after he was slain by wicked hands, it was Jesus "Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it (held down by death)."  (God raised Jesus--He did not raise himself.)

Acts 2:36-38 -- Peter was so fearful of the authorities before Christ's death that he actually denied knowing Jesus three times!  After the resurrection he became bold and powerful:  "God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.  Now when they (the people) heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter ...what shall we do?"   "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."  (That is the great gift that is given by God through someone who has the authority when one goes through the steps of repentance and baptism.)  Three thousand souls were baptized that day and five thousand the next day or two.  

Acts 3 & 4 -- The lame man was healed and the news of it was spread like Twitter feed.  The Rulers in Jerusalem were worried about the miracle and grieved that the apostles were preaching about the resurrection from the dead through Jesus.  They commanded the apostles to not talk about it to the people.    Peter said to them, "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.  For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."  Also, the followers of God had all things in common and no one lacked.  (As Christians, we could try to be more like the followers of God in this day.  The scriptures are FULL of admonitions to us to care for the poor, the widows, the fatherless, etc.)

Acts 5 -- People are being healed, miracles of all kinds were happening and there were thousands of converts.  The rulers were indignant at all the success of the apostles and worried that this movement would grow.  The Church of Jesus Christ was becoming a threat to the religious and civil leaders.   They put them in prison but at night an angel of the Lord opened the doors, releasing the apostles and told them to go to the temple and teach.   The apostles were again brought before the rulers who were debating what to do with them.  Finally a wise man said "Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:  But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; be careful therefore, lest ye be found even to fight against God."   Ironically--"And to him they agreed:...they beat the apostles and commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go."  (That's agreement??  What did the apostles do?)  The apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.  "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." 

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